Mindfulness and Depression and Letting Thoughts Go

We’ve spent a lot of time learning how to replace or modify our negative thoughts with CBT. Cognitive restructuring is one of the primary CBT techniques to relieve depression. When we’re depressed, changing our thoughts to make them less negative helps us feel better.

But one of the challenges with cognitive restructuring, especially when we’re depressed, is it can lead to an increase in negative thoughts. When we’re depressed, we tend to get stuck in our heads. We ruminate and dwell on our thoughts, and can get caught up in worrying. And this makes us feel worse.

Sometimes when we attempt cognitive restructuring, our negative thoughts are already so overwhelming that they are very difficult to modify or replace. And when we try to find different ways of looking at things, we just come up with new negative thoughts to add into the mix. And thinking about our negative thoughts in order to try to change them can encourage more ruminating and dwelling.

Mindfulness of Thoughts

Cognitive restructuring is still one of the best ways to manage depression. But there’s another way we can respond to our negative thoughts. Instead of trying to change the content of our thoughts to make them less negative, we can change how we relate to our thoughts. Rather than trying to modify or replace our thoughts, we can simply be mindful of our thoughts.

Since our Thoughts are not Facts, if we’re having intrusive thoughts unrelated to what we’re doing, we don’t need to pay attention to them. We want to be aware of our thoughts, but if they’re not relevant to whatever we’re engaged in at the time, we don’t need to do anything about them. We don’t need to try to change them. We don’t need to risk getting caught up in them, or to ruminate or dwell on them. We can just acknowledge these thoughts and then let them go.

Once we learn to acknowledge our automatic negative thoughts and just let them go, they lose their power over how we feel. They become like mental background noise. They come in one ear, and go right out the other, before they have a chance to negatively affect our moods.

Letting Go Of Thoughts

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